How to Choose the Right Kind of Hunting Dog Food?

How to Choose the Right Kind of Hunting Dog Food

A good hunting dog is the result of two things: Having a good hunting dog food and a good training. Training your dog may seem to be a difficult thing for you, feeding your dog the right food even more challenging.

Adult genetics and training play an important role in the development of your hunting dog; your dog needs a proper diet to function well. The nutrition intake can largely affect the dog’s ability to understand things and to work.

Your hunting dog needs more energy compared to a normal dog, especially in hunting seasons. He needs to stay by your side on the field all day long, and it needs to run to chase the prey or retrieve the prey. Also, he is like an athlete compared to other dogs.

What do Hunting Dogs Eat?

We divide the life of your dog into two main parts: the hunting season and off-season. It is vital to maintaining the diet for your dog not only during the hunting months but also the months when they stay at home and practice.

As for nutrients, there are three most important things for dogs which are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Different from human, your dog needs a lot of fat to keep it working. This is why the foods for hunting dog often contain at least 20% of fat. Fat is your hunting dog’s primary source of energy.

What do Hunting Dogs Eat?

Image source: 1 Hunt Buddy

Also, hunting dog’s foods contain about 30% of protein for your dog to build muscles and keep them strong. The rest is made up of carbohydrates to support the muscles and provide energy for your dog.

Although every dog is different and requires a different amount of nutrients, all hunting dog food should contain this proportion of fat, protein, and carbs. You can also ask the seller to provide you with appropriate food for your hunting dog breed (Beagles, Setter, etc.).

During the time that your dog stays at home and only goes out one to two hours a day for exercises, you don’t necessarily have to feed it with the kind of food mentioned above as it may create too much energy for the dog to burn. This may cause destructive behaviors in your dog.

So, during this time, feeding your dog with some maintenance food with high quality would be enough. Those foods should contain about 15% fat and 25% protein.

The question of whether you should feed your dog with performance or maintenance food should be determined by yourself. If your hunting dog is too active for its sake, you still may want to feed it with performance food all year long. Just make sure that you cut down the portions when it’s not out hunting every day.

Hunting Dog Food: Dry vs. Canned vs. Semi-moist food

There are hundreds of different brands of food for a dog on the marketplace. No wonder why people are confused about what they need to buy.

Don’t make it hard for yourself; ask the seller or the breeder about what specific type of food it should consume. It should be hunting dog food of course but with different nutrients for different breeds.

However, you still should make a decision on whether you want to go with canned wet food, dry or semi-moist food.

You should make a decision on whether you want to go with canned wet food, dry or semi-moist food

Image source: Woman’s Day

Of course, your dog would prefer canned-food best for its flavor, and dry food should be its least favorite. For that reason, it is advised that you buy all three of them and let your dog try them. Observe your dog for its reaction toward the food.

If your dog shows a clear sign of interest in one particular type, you should stick with that type. Your dog needs a lot of food intake to produce energy for itself. So, if the food is tasteless and it doesn’t enjoy eating, then it means that your dog may be fatigue if it is forced to work.

Make sure that you try those foods in three different meals because even though your dog enjoys the 3rd dish, its stomach can still be filled up with the first two dishes so it can’t take food anymore. Also, your dog needs time to reset its flavor for the food.

Despite all of that, regarding food for a hunting dog, dry food will provide your dog with most nutrition.

Why so?

The more moisture content the food is, the less amount of fat, protein, and other nutrients it contains. This means that your hunting dog should eat a lot more moisture food to have the similar amount of nutrients intake as the dry food. This is not a good thing if you keep your hunting dog in shape and ready to hunt.

Keep in mind that the dog needs almost 24 hours to fully digest a meal. You would want to feed it with as much dense food as possible. It is because your dog would turn out to be slower and less active if there is a lot of food in it. So train your dog to be discipline and eat all of its dry food when hunting seasons come. This is similar to a typical meal of an athlete where the nutrition matters more than the taste of the food.

The Ingredients of Hunting Dog Food

No matter what breed of dog you might have, you know that your dog is a hunting dog and it needs to work and uses a lot of energy. The best food for your hunting dog should be nutrient-dense food with high-fat content. Here are what should be in the ingredients of the food:

Nutrient dense

Carbohydrates will provide your dog with sufficient energy while protein will encourage the development of muscles to make your dog stronger and more resilient to the terrains. At the same time, fat will provide your dog with additional energy so as to optimize its performance.


A layer of fat can make your dog’s coat thicker. This is important especially when you hunt in the cold seasons and when your dog needs to cross a lake.


They are the building blocks of muscles. Your dog needs protein to maintain its metabolism. Protein can also help your dog to avoid injuries.


They provide your dog with quick energy although they can raise its blood sugar. Too many carbs can cause intestinal gas while too little of them can cause constipation in your dog.

Vitamins, minerals, water

All of those are needed for your dog chemical reaction. They encourage the process of digestion and metabolism.  Look for these things in the list of ingredients when you buy your dog’s food. A well package should contain Vitamins A, D, E, K, B, calcium and phosphorous.

Water is critical for your hunting dog. You should keep some cans of water in your backpack during the hunting trip to prevent your dog from dehydration.

You also need to avoid

Avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your hunting dog’s food. Your dog can still have rice, oats or cereal. Also, don’t feed your dog with food that contains an excessively high percentage of protein.

Hunting dog health problems

There are many different breeds of hunting dog, and each of them has different problems. However, here are the most common problems that are likely to happen to your hunting dog.

Hip dysplasia: it happens when the thigh bone doesn’t fit into the socket of the pelvis properly. Obesity can cause the situation worse. Some of the dogs might never show a sign of it. To prevent this problem, feed your dog with dry food and take it to the vest twice a year for an overall health check.

Hip dysplasia dogs

Image source: Pet Scan: Mobile Veterinary Ultrasound Service

Volvulus, gastric dilatation: Your dog’s stomach will be filled with air and gas which will make the dog uncomfortable. This can twist the dog’s stomach and cut down its blood supply. If this happens to your dog, you need to take it to a vet immediately.

There are thousands of problems that can happen to your hunting dog.

So maintain a good diet and exercise it every day is one good way of preventing your dog from such problems.

It is also mandatory to take your dog to the vet once every six months so that any problems that may happen can be detected in time.

Bathe your dog once a week to clear away germs and bugs that are living under your dog’s coat. Wash it once after every hunting session. This can help you to detect wounds in your dog.

When to Feed Your Dog

You need to focus on the time that your dog eats and the time between meals to keep your dog performing its best. In the old days, vets suggested that your dog should be fed twice a day but recent studies show that it might not be the best way.

During the hunting season, you should only feed your dog once a day (heavy meal) after it comes back from the hunting trip in the late afternoon. You can also include a light meal in the morning before taking it out although it is not recommended.

Just like humans, your dog performs much better if its stomach is kept free more than 15 hours before the hunting trip. Digestion can slow the dog down noticeably and makes it get tired faster.

In fact, your dog has double the amount of endurance when they run with their empty stomach compared to when they eat within the earlier 4 hours. So, eating a lot is not always a good thing.

You might think that it will help your dog be more energetic. But too much food can produce unnecessary energy and cause your dog to act slower because of the digestion process. It’s not about the quantity of the meal but the quality.

The Quality of the Food

As mentioned, when it comes to feed your hunting dog, it’s always about the quality of the food, not the quantity. Why should you feed your dog dry food and only once a day but not moisture-canned food for many meals?

Just like any other things, quality comes at a price. Having a can of mixtures and water will not only make the bowl messy, but it also makes your dog’s stomach messy.

A can of food might look like a lot but in fact, they never contain as much nutrition as the same amount of dry food. So when you buy your dog dry food, you get what you pay for. The less messy it is, the better the food is.

Just imagine feeding your dog a small kettle. You want that kettle of being full and filled with as many nutrients as possible. Dry food is like a full kettle.

You can’t add any more to a full kettle. Canned food, on the other hand, is like an empty kettle. Your dog would need to swallow an empty kettle which will take more space but gives less energy.

You can check that out by comparing the nutrition value of a can and a packet of dry food. The dry food would be more well-balanced and provides more energy every 100 grams.

For instance, the top brands usually use real meat as their source of protein in the food while cheaper brands rely on grains and vegetables for protein. Feeding your dog with the cheapest type of food you can find is similar to feeding an athlete with fast food every day.

You can’t expect your hunting dog to perform well if the food doesn’t provide it with the nutrients it needs. This is also the case where brands claim that their food contains 30% of the protein in it. But the quality of protein is worse than a brand which has only 25% of protein. But that 25% can come from real meat.

So be picky and select the right food for your dog. You must not blame yourself because you can’t just always pick the best one. There are hundreds of different brands out there.

But what you can do after reading this article is that you would narrow down your selection and only stick to the brands that are truly good. Optimized your choice by asking your breeders and experts; they are always a valuable source of advice for you.

By many different small package and observe your dog reaction. You would know which one it prefers.

Top Products for Hunting Dogs:

1. Victor GMO Free Performance Beef Meal with Glucosamine

Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

This grain free formula packs a real punch, containing 26 percent protein and 18 percent fat, as well as Omega 3, Omega 6, selenium, vitamin E and other beneficial nutrients. Still, far from just being a decent performance food from one of the country’s top brands, this food also works to help keep your dog’s joints and digestive system healthy thanks to the added glucosamine and probiotics. For this reason, this particular food from Victor is our top pick, as while it may be a bit more expensive, it generally outperforms Iams, Purina and other top brands.

2. Natural Choice High Endurance Dogndura

Our Rating: 4.4 / 5

This 30/20 protein fat formula food is without a doubt one of the purest, best products on the market, completely free of fillers, additives and other things you don’t want. Made from healthy chicken meal, whole brown rice and oatmeal, this food will keep your hunting dog in perfect shape, while also helping to promote a shiny, healthy coat, strong bones and joints and overall good health. However, it happens to be rather pricey, which is why it scores slightly lower than the Victor food.

3. Redpaw PowerEdge 32K Performance Dog Food

Our Rating: 4.2 / 5

Containing even higher levels of protein and fat (32 percent protein, 20 percent fat), Redpaw PowerEdge is specifically for high performance working dogs that train at least three or four times a week. As with the other top brands, it is 100 percent free from fillers, sugars, artificial colors or flavorings, meaning it contains all the things your hunting dog needs and none of what it doesn’t. Still, it does contain some grain, unlike Victor dog foods, which are always grain free.

4. Purina Pro Plan Sport

Our Rating: 4.2 / 5

As one of the world’s top brands, it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Purina Pro Plan Sport is also one of our top picks for the best dog food for hunting dogs. This 26 percent protein, 16 percent fat performance food offers a complete level of nutrition, making it ideal for hunting dogs of all sizes and activity levels. However, it does contain a few artificial ingredients, as well as grain, which is why it scored slightly lower than the others. Nonetheless, it’s still a decent mid-range food for those that don’t want to spend the extra on one of the top end products.

Above are some top products for your hunting dogs. You must think carefully before choosing the brand that is suitable and good for your dog.